How to Become a California Registered Process Server

This is general information about the registration process.  Each County Clerk handles the registration process a little differently.  You should first check with the particular County Clerk to ascertain how that particular registration process is completed.

The registration process can be completed in as little as 20 minutes in some counties, with proper planning, or within one or two hours otherwise. Once you have the bond, you may commence the registration process. The Los Angeles County Clerk now requires appointments to register as a process server making it more efficient for both the applicant and County Clerk.

The County Clerk will require the following:

  • $2000 process server bond
  • completed Request for Live Scan Service form (fingerprints)
  • 2 passport style photos
  • completed Certificate of Registration, and
  • filing fee.


Obtain a $2000.00 Process Server Bond from a bonding company. The 2 year bond should cover the term of the registration so you should specify a particular start date as the day you plan to register at the County Clerk’s office. A bond can range from $49.00 to $175.00. Contact Process Server Institute for a bond application to send to a bonding company, and specify which county you plan to register in. Registration is statewide, and you need to register in only one county. The proper county is where you reside or do business. Once you have the bond, you may commence the registration process.

The applicant will sign the bond before a Notary Public.

The signed bond should then be copied and delivered to the County Clerk to commence the registration.

You may also post $2000.00 instead, but because the bond is like insurance, the County Clerk will not return the $2000.00 until 3 years after the registration terminates.

County of Registration

The proper county for filing a Certificate of Registration is where the server resides or does business. The filing fee ranges from $90.00 to $232.00 and varies from county to county.


Fingerprints are needed to conduct felony background checks through the State of California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Fingerprinting must be done using live scan.  Since 2005 all County Clerks must accept and submit to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) a completed Request for Live Scan Service form showing that the fingerprinting was processed by a live scan operator.  (Note: Los Angeles County uses a slightly different form. Check their website for individual process server filers.) The electronic fingerprinting procedure scans the prints and transmits them electronically. They are no longer permitted to submit fingerprint cards to the DOJ, unless they file an exemption with the DOJ. Each county handles this process differently.

Generally, the registration process is commenced by first checking with the County Clerk to ascertain their requirements. In most counties, the County Clerk will provide the process server applicant with a Request for Live Scan Service form (BCIA 8016), upon which a unique ORI (Originating Agency Identification) number will be entered. The ORI number is necessary for the live scan operator to initiate the process and electronically transmit the prints to the DOJ to complete the process. The ORI number identifies the particular agency to which the background check, or felony report must be sent.  The ORI number specifies which County Clerk’s office is to be notified for any existing or subsequent felony convictions. This is why the process must originate with the office of the County Clerk and not the live scan location, unless you are sure of the proper ORI number. If the particular ORI number is wrong, you’ll have to do it again.

It may involve a trip to the County Clerk to initiate the registration process and to obtain the multi-part “Request for Live Scan Service” form, then a trip to a live scan location for the fingerprint process. Upon completion, the live scan operator will sign and return to the applicant a copy of the Request for Live Scan Service form to the applicant to return it to the County Clerk as proof confirming that the live scan fingerprinting process was completed, and the registration may be finalized.

Note: If you have been convicted of a felony, you must first obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Pardon. The California Governor’s Office has posted a description of the process entitled “How to Apply for a Pardon”  describing this process here. Copy or print and save this article because they move the link occasionally.

Eugene Kinsey, Esq. of Seal Beach, CA has posted an excellent article describing the certification process entitled Free Forms to Clear (Expunge) a Criminal Record in California.

You may find live scan operators who may perform this service throughout the state. Fees range from $10.00 to over $85.00, depending on where to have it done.

Public Live Scan Locations


Obtain two standard “passport style” photos.

Many UPS Stores, drug stores or photography studios can do this for about $10.00. You’ll need at least 2 pictures. Los Angeles County Clerk can take the picture in the office as a part of the registration process.

Certificate of Registration

Complete a Certificate of Registration at the County Clerk’s office. Each county uses their own form.  See an example Certificate of Registration form used by Los Angeles County. The Certificate of Registration is a statement that 1) the registrant been a resident of California for at least one year and 2) has not been convicted of a felony, and 3) that he or she will perform his or her duties as a process server in compliance with the laws governing service of process.

There is no training requirement. You may find the process serving laws in the California Code of Civil Procedure, the Civil Code, and Penal Code, and Probate Code. These laws are cited and described fully in our book, The Registered Process Server’s Guide to Service of Process in California.

The County Clerk will file the Certificate of Registration and the bond, and accept the completed live scan form with the filing fee. The bond will then be dispatched internally to the County Recorder for recording. The original bond will be returned via mail to the applicant after recording.

Filing Fee

Filing fees vary by county and range from about $100 to $180.

Completing the Registration

The County Clerk will issue the applicant a temporary Process Server Registration ID Card with the name, address, photo and a registration number. The card is good for 90 days and if no negative felony report is reported to the County Clerk by either the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a permanent card will be mailed to the process server that will expire at the end of the two-year registration period.

The registration is a statewide registration authorizing service throughout the state of California. The county of registration and the registration number must be entered on proofs of service signed by the process server.

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  • I came to the U.S. almost a year ago, I got my driver license in July of 2015 and my green card in this April, do you think that I could apply for the process server registration based on my drivers license in July?


    • PSIAdmin

      Andres: The California Business and Professions Code sec. 22350, et seq. describes the requirements for registering as a process server (posted on this site). One of those requirements is to be a California resident for 1 year. If you were a resident in July 2015 or earlier, you may register as a process server.

  • A

    once I get the bond do I have to get a bond in every county that I register in to be a process server?

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